Call for participation: Toward a Minor Tech

2022-10-11

PhD/Research workshop: call for participation

Deadline for submissions: 11 Nov
Application form available at: https://transmediale.thegood.cloud/apps/forms/ap9o3HDgGbSEF8rs 
Workshop at London South Bank University and King’s College, London: 18-20 Jan 2023
Presentation at transmediale festival 2023, Akademie der Künste, Berlin, 1-5 February 2023
Online publication APRJA: Summer 2023

The three characteristics of minor literature are the deterritorialization of language, the connection of the individual to a political immediacy, and the collective arrangement of utterance. Which amounts to this: that “minor” no longer characterises certain literatures, but describes the revolutionary conditions of any literature within what we call the great (or established).  –– Deleuze and Guattari, “Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature”

The upcoming edition of transmediale explores “how technological scale sets conditions for relations, feelings, democratic processes, and infrastructures.” (https://2023.transmediale.de/). This becomes apparent in the massification of images and texts, and the application of various scalar machine techniques that try to make these comprehensible for human and non-human readers. “There is a problem with scale”, as Anna Tsing puts it, in its connection to modernist master narratives that organise life on an increasingly globalised scale (the “bigness” of capitalism). Instead, she writes, we need to “notice” the small details and not assume that these need to be scaled up to be effective. In technical fields, there is a similar problem with scale, as Big Tech dominates, with ensuing environmental damage; big computing begets big data. In contrast, what we are referring to as minor tech, like small tech, operates at human scale (more peer to peer than server-client). “Small technology, smallnet and smolnet are associated with communities using alternative network infrastructures, delinking from the commercial Internet.” (Damaged Earth Catalogue, https://damaged.bleu255.com/Small_Technology/)

In this workshop, we welcome proposals that in different ways question the universal ideals of technology and its problems of scale; including big data, machine learning, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, blockchain mining, and how they relate to the global organisation of labour, extractions of natural resources, exploitation, energy consumption, and more. Questions may, for instance, relate to how to negotiate the dynamics of scaling between big data and small technology, attentive to what Cathy Park Hong calls “minor feelings” (that derive from racial and economic discrimination in society)? As our technological systems scale up, what is their impact on affect and emotion? Can scale bring together new material and cultural assemblages between humans and nonhumans, ecology, and technological infrastructure and systems? How do the universals of technology relate to minor practices and collective action (for instance, trans-feminist or decolonial)? 

We invite proposals for participation in a three-day workshop to explore some of these ideas, and to approach the notion of scale as a research problem. In other words, through the workshop’s activities, we reflect on how the technical conditions of scale relate to sustainable research practices and explore ways of collapsing the traditional workflows of academic publishing (typically taking many months to reach its public), drawing more closely together work-in-progress and feedback, writing, and experimental print production. 

In short, participants will be expected to:

  1. Produce research essays (of 1,000 words) / 20 Dec 2022
  2. Exchange ideas online / 20 Dec - 18 Jan 2023
  3. Attend an in-person workshop in London, where they will present their research, engage in collective writing experiments, and produce a print newspaper / 18 - 20 Jan
  4. Present the newspaper at transmediale festival. / 2 Feb (TBC)

Credits for full participation (PhD students): 3 ECTS

Following the workshop, participants are also invited to extend (scale up) their arguments for submission to the online peer-reviewed academic journal APRJA – a journal that presents emerging research into software art and cultures; including software studies, media archaeology, platform politics, interface criticism, and aesthetic and artistic production.

The workshop is specifically targeted toward PhD/early career researchers, and we welcome submissions from researchers from inside/outside the academy, including artists, designers, and curators. It is free but we expect participants (or ideally their institutions) to cover their travel/accommodation costs. 

The workshop is organised by Digital Aesthetics Research Center, Aarhus University and Centre for the Study of the Networked Image, London South Bank University, in collaboration with King’s College London, and transmediale festival for digital art & culture, Berlin.

For the application, we require the following brief descriptions:

  1. Biography (100 words)
  2. Details of current research project (100 words)
  3. Intended contribution/abstract and relevance to workshop (200 words)

Deadline for submissions: 11 Nov

Application form available at: https://transmediale.thegood.cloud/apps/forms/ap9o3HDgGbSEF8rs